At the heart of a Visual Factory are signals, boards or other types communication which enable the workers and supervisors to manage and react to information. But not only do these devices and systems share information, they project and even drive behavior.
Many organizations give little thought to the value of Visual Factory. Yet if you consider the importance of being able to get information easily and instantly, giving way to the ability to react quickly, you will find the lack of visual controls is debilitating. An example of the link in these two principles is the speedometer and gas pedal.
Without a speedometer, it is less likely to be assured of speed that won’t get the attention of local law enforcement! Of course that is followed up by the opinion many have that all the information they need is at the tips of their fingers through a keyboard. While this also has value, TIMELY information (before you speed past a police officer) is much better than a report at the end of the day that told that you did so!
The first level of Visual Factory is a passive display of information. Think “Thermometer”. This gage should instantly tell you the temperature. But using the information is key. Think “Thermostat”.
So the second level of Visual Factory introduces controls. These controls can decide schedules, where to put materials, priorities, even how to adjust labor in order to achieve throughput goals.
Ask yourself if information is available to all that need it. How easy and visible is it to retrieve? Imagine not having a gage on your dashboard, rather a keyboard where you had to type a query of speed whenever you wanted to know how fast you are traveling.
Lastly, the drivers are the biggest consumer of most of the information available on a dashboard. Just as the workers and their productivity will benefit the most from healthy “Factory” gages.